Tuesday, March 05, 2013

REVIEW: "Abraham's Journey: A Celebration of the American Dream" Book

My girls have shown interest over the last couple of years in earning their own money. I confess that I haven't been as helpful to them in that as I could have been. For a while there, it seemed like they were always talking about garage sales. I feel stressed thinking about organizing a garage sale,  so we haven't done that. They've also wanted to try a lemonade stand, but we don't live in a neighborhood that gets much traffic at all, so I haven't encouraged that, either.

I was intrigued when I heard about Abraham's Journey: A Celebration of the American Dream, a book by Robert and Kathleen Basmadkian, from the company Inspiring the American Dream. I received a hard copy of the book, available from their website for $14.99, or as a Kindle book for 9.99. It's a nice paperback, with sturdy cover and pages, and nice illustrations. It's aimed at ages 7-12, and after reading it to my kids who are 5, 11, and 12, I agree with that. The girls understood it, but my little man didn't really, although he enjoyed hearing the story and looking at the pictures. 

The story begins with a boy named Abraham learning that his parents have lost their jobs. They tell him and his sister that they will still celebrate Christmas, but there will be no money for gifts. Abraham determines to do something about that, and starts using his smart phone to text his friends, looking for odd jobs and ways to earn money to help his family. While he's doing that, Abraham Lincoln appears in his screen, and proceeds to take him on a journey through a "cyber world," where he meets famous figures of past and present who exemplify the American Dream: Martin Luther King Jr., Norman Rockwell, Amelia Earhart, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill and Linda Gates. Abraham (the boy) discerns that his own special talent is painting, so he creates several paintings and proceeds to sell them, raising enough money to buy gifts for his family for Christmas as well as for donations to a local homeless shelter.

I confess that I had to go look up a definition of "American Dream," simply because while I've heard about it all my life, of course, if you'd asked me to describe it to you, I would have had a hard time.

In 1931, James Truslow Adams, an American writer and historian,  defined the American Dream this way: " should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement." The United States Declaration of Independence state that "all men are created equal" and they are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights," including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I found this information on Wikipedia, and it did give me a clearer idea of what I was looking for from this story.

I enjoyed reading this book with my children. I liked that it talked about individuals finding their own special talent, and being creative in using it to find ways to earn money. I also appreciated seeing a young man acting selflessly to help his family in a time of need, and also finding a way to help other people, as well. I appreciated, too, that it mentioned the Great Recession, a part of history we are all experiencing now. It prompted a great discussion with my girls. Had I been paying a bit more attention, I would have noticed brief biographies of the people mentioned in the book, and we would have read those first. The story makes more sense when you know a little bit about the people mentioned. There is also a list of vocabulary words and their definitions - very helpful! I do feel that the story gave us a lot to think about, and I intend to continue talking with them about what they believe their own special talents to be and how they might use them to accomplish their own goals as well as bless others.

While the story is clearly written as a fantasy or dream, I like to see a more realistic picture of the effort it takes to make enough paintings to sell, and how Abraham came up with the money for the supplies to create them. The American Dream is all about creating your own success with your own hard work, and my one criticism of this book is that it skated over the hard work portion of the process.

Overall, we enjoyed reading this book. It's a great idea, and a good way to present the ideals of the American Dream in a narrative, living way. I hope you'll check it out!

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

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